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Merry Christmas Mysteries

Merry Christmas Mysteries

Автором Linda Kozar

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Merry Christmas Mysteries

Автором Linda Kozar

Длина:
157 pages
2 hours
Издатель:
Издано:
Sep 14, 2018
ISBN:
9781540164650
Формат:
Книге

Описание

These sweet, petite cozy Christmas mysteries will bring a smile to your face while you're waiting for the cookies to finish baking. Curl up with a cup of Cinnamon tea and Merry Christmas Mysteries.

Издатель:
Издано:
Sep 14, 2018
ISBN:
9781540164650
Формат:
Книге

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Merry Christmas Mysteries - Linda Kozar

cousin.

Table of Contents

A Cup of Christmas Tea

Recipe for Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice Cookies

Coffee, Tea and Larceny

Recipe for

Felony Fruitcake

The Fruitcake Song

Recipe for Sue Jan’s Felony Fruitcake

Island of Lost Stories

Turkish Shortbread Cookies

A Cup of Christmas Tea

By Linda P. Kozar

Ajagged spear of lightning ripped across the sky, followed by a sudden crash of thunder. Startled, Ophelia Hunter jumped back from the window, cookie cutter in hand.  

Too close. That one was too close. Her blue-eyed border collie, Jake cocked his head to the side as if in agreement. 

Her cell phone jingled the Christmas ringtone she’d downloaded. Sam! Hi Honey. Not much. Making cookies for the women’s shelter. They’re having a Christmas party for the kids. Sergeant Barnes is dressing as Santa." She let out a nervous laugh.

Here it comes.

She paused as he asked her the question she dreaded. No, I-I don’t have an answer for you, yet. Please let me pray about it some more. I know you’re deploying in a couple of months, but I don’t know what I’d do if you . . .

Sam had asked her to marry him a few days ago, but the fear of losing him was too strong. The loss of her father in an accident last year, and her mother just four months ago to cancer had left her in an unsettled state. Though her heart wanted to offer a joyful yes, raw fear gripped it.

I need a little time, that’s all. You know how much I love you. Okay, I promise. Love you. Bye.

Ophelia took a deep breath, put the cookie cutter back on the cutting board and looked up at the ceiling. Lord, I don’t know what to do. I love Sam with all my heart and I want to be his wife but I don’t want to be a lonely widow or single mother like the ones in the women’s shelter. The tears came like a flood and she sank to the cold floor. I-I don’t want to lose anyone else. Hurts too much. She buried her face in a dishtowel as the lightning and thunder cut across the sky.

A few minutes later, her emotions spent, she wiped her tears and got back to work. She placed the last of the sugar cookies on the baking sheet and popped it in the oven. There, that’s the last batch. Ophelia glanced at her beloved pet and managed a smile. 

This time she was certain Jake knew what she was talking about. He licked the sides of his mouth in anticipation.

She brushed her hands together and untied her apron. But as she did, the doorbell rang. Ophelia paused in the hallway to check her appearance in the mirror. Though her eyes were a bit puffy, there was no flour on her cheeks. Her wavy black hair was still tucked neatly under a knitted headband. She opened the door.

Thank goodness! An older woman motioned to the younger one behind her and the two charged through the door as thunder boomed, clipping the Christmas wreath with the boxes they held. A spray of needles landed on the welcome mat. 

Aunt Nancy? Jennifer? Come on—in. Ophelia welcomed the two, but they were already on their way to her kitchen. A fresh chill in the air, she closed the door on the pounding rain the two were trying to escape and joined them. 

Ladies, what a surprise! 

We just missed getting soaked. Jennifer plonked down her box on the kitchen table and sank into a chair. We saw it coming. The lightning was intense. I’ve never been so scared. Another second and—

We’d have looked like drowned rats.

Jennifer laughed. I don’t know what a drowned rat looks like, Mama.

Nancy took off her glasses and wiped them on the hem of the skirt. Well, Honey I sure do. We saw plenty of them on the farm. They were always getting into the cistern.

Enough with the rats. Ophelia laughed and embraced the two women. 

Aunt Nancy, a woman in her sixties, looked at least ten years younger. She wore her hair in an attractive brown bob. Her trendy glasses and lipstick matched the free-flowing bohemian skirt and loose cable knit sweater she wore to cover her indulgences, her aunt’s code word for hips.  

Knowing her penchant for sweets, Ophelia wasn’t surprised when she saw her aunt sniff the air and follow her nose to the kitchen counter where twelve-dozen sugar cookies were cooling on racks. 

Good thing I made a Baker’s dozen. They’re not iced yet.

Nancy’s eyes lit up. May I? With or without icing these are irresistible. 

"Sure, go ahead. 

Jake, right on her heels, whimpered. Aunt Nancy smiled and broke off a bit of cookie, which he happily dispatched.

Can I offer you ladies some tea?

Nancy clapped her hands together, the bangle bracelets on her wrists clanging as she did. That would be lovely. Yes, please.

Her cousin shivered. Tea would be perfect. Did you feel that front when we came in? Temps are supposed to dip into the twenties tonight.

Great, I’ll make you my special ginger milk tea. There’s no better tea for a cold day—ginger warms you from the inside out. She put a pot of water on the stove to boil and began peeling a fresh ginger root with a paring knife, cutting as she went, dropping the slices directly into the water.

And I have just the teapot for your special tea. Her aunt and cousin shared a knowing look.

Huh?

Nancy opened a brown box, pulled it from tissue paper and slowly lifted the teapot out. White porcelain circled with green holly and red berries at the base, the vintage pot had touches of gold around the rim, spout and cover.

Ophelia gasped. It’s beautiful!

Don’t you love it? We immediately thought of you when we came across it, well, when Jen found it packed away in a closet.

We know how you love teapots. How big is your collection now?

I don’t know. I’ve lost count.

Well, here’s one more to add to your teapot hoard. I’m sure mother would want you to have it. You certainly inherited her passion for tea.

Ophelia grasped the pot, careful to hold the cover in place as she examined it. I don’t know what to say. It’s lovely.

The oven timer went off. Her cousin jumped up, grabbed a potholder and pulled the cookie sheet out the oven, the sugary scent of the last batch filling the air.

Well, I have an idea. Aunt Nancy pulled out a chair and sat. Why don’t you wash it and use it for our tea? I’d love to take tea from mother’s special Christmas teapot.

Good idea. Ophelia set herself to the task. It’s certainly the right season. Can you believe it’s only three weeks away? 

Nancy winked at her daughter. I have to confess.

Confess what?

Jen and I brought you the teapot for a special reason.

Ophelia rocked her head from side to side. I don’t think I like the looks in your eyes. Are you two up to something?

Jennifer winked. Maybe—here it is. The teapot always goes to the eldest daughter, of which you are, when she marries.

Ophelia swallowed hard. The word marry brought a lump to her throat. But I’m not . . .

Didn’t Sam ask you? Jennifer’s mouth fell open.

Ophelia couldn’t speak. She moved her mouth, but no sound came out—at first. Then she told them the story.

Nancy waved her away. Stop worrying so much and marry the man. You love each other. Everyone in town knows it.

I-I don’t’ know what’s wrong with m-me. 

Tear and stutters were all she could get out at first.  I t-told him I-I’d marry him when he comes back for good—in three years. B-but he doesn’t want to wait t-that long, which-which m-makes me worry that he’s worried he w-won’t come back.

Jennifer cradled her face in her hands, elbows on the table. "You know what your problem is.

No, what?

You worry too much. Quit thinking about things. Going over and over stuff in your head will make you crazy. Don’t you love him?

Of course I do!

Glad to hear that. Then what’s holding you back? Nancy blinked.

Ophelia shook her head. 

Most likely realizing she wouldn’t get an answer from Ophelia, her aunt, eyes dancing merrily, gestured as if drinking a cup of tea. 

Ophelia grinned and set to work—swishing the inside of the pot with hot water and dishwashing liquid, careful to run a small bottlebrush up the spout. It was quite obvious the pot hadn’t been used in years. By the time she finished washing and filling the teapot with hot water to warm, the time had come to add some black tea to the ginger root concoction. That done—she placed the lid on to let it steep.

She plated the last batch and placed the cookies on the table with teacups and saucers, napkins and silver spoons. Tell me how the inventory is going. 

The two ladies were busy going through Grandma Riley’s house, preparing items for a January estate sale. She’d lived alone until two months ago when she fell and broke her hip. A plucky woman for her eighty-nine years, she’d taken immobility hard.

Her cousin shrugged. The two were about the same age—late twenties, but her cousin favored the other side of the family. Red-haired, freckle-faced and full of persimmons, as Grandmother would say.

She’s not handling this well, but we can’t let her live alone any more. It’s just too dangerous for a woman her age. She tripped over her cat. That’s how she fell, you know. It’s all Daisy’s fault.

Nancy huffed her disapproval. Daisy would disagree.

"Well, you’re stuck with her now."

Unless, you’d like the sweet widdle kittycat? Her aunt looked at Ophelia, a hopeful glint in her eyes. 

Not me. Cats make me wheeze.

Judging

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